The JP95 John Petrucci Cry Baby® Wah provides unprecedented tonal tweakability. With its huge and expressive sound, this pedal is the culmination of legendary shredder John Petrucci’s years-long quest to hone and fine-tune his perfect wah sound. John sat down with us to talk about the tonechasing that led to the JP95’s creation as well as his introduction to the wah effect and how it fits into his songwriting process. Check it out.
How were you introduced to the wah, and who influenced your use of it?
John Petrucci: My introduction to the wah was gradual. I kept hearing it on all these songs, and I couldn’t help wanting to find out what it was when I was learning to play as a teenager. At that time, I was a big fan of Iron Maiden, and I’d listen to how Dave Murray used the wah.
But it was Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien that really changed everything for me, though. The way that he uses it as an extension of the expression of his playing, and the way he shapes the notes to make them envelope or be more mellow or more open or sustain or get feedback—that’s probably the biggest influence on the way that I use the wah today.
How do you incorporate the wah into your own playing?
JP: Using the Cry Baby Wah is like bending, or sliding, or using vibrato on your guitar. It’s a way to add more expression and dynamics to what you’re playing. If you get the hang of it, you can really control where the note blossoms. Generally, I use that expressive character to shape my leads, but there are certain situation where it does become an integral component of the songwriting.
The combination of playing hard, playing fast, and stepping on the wah really sets the whole thing on fire.
I remember when the 535Q first came out, with the adjustable Q and frequency range, when we were writing the Scenes from Memory album. I dialed in the perfect sound with that pedal, one I’d never really heard before. We wrote this song “Home,” which has this big wah riff to it. The wah simply accentuates the riff, but it created a unique sound that’s crucial to the impact of the song. If you play that riff without the wah, it just doesn’t sound the same.
Another way I like to use my Cry Baby Wah is to take an aggressive lick to the next level, opening up the notes and getting them to scream and feedback. The combination of playing hard, playing fast, and stepping on the wah really sets the whole thing on fire.